From the Rangefinder Forum…
Doug is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Pacific NW, USA
Gear Value Anxiety?
I use the quote above only as an introduction to the topic, and intend my question as directed toward RFF members in general, not specifically to the one quoted.
Do you feel nervous about carrying expensive gear? This issue is mentioned from time to time, so it appears there are a number of us who share this concern.
What is your feeling about this? Are you inhibited from buying expensive yet affordable gear because of a sense of vulnerability or risk?
Sure, I worry about losing my gear. Whenever I go out to shoot I think about how much of it I want to risk. I don’t live in a great area, so I think about protecting my gear at home as well.
In the old film era days I didn’t have to worry so much. I could buy cheap, stripped down, used Nikon F bodies for next to nothing. One time my Nikon gear got stolen, so I replaced it with a used $75 Pentax Spotmatic until I saved up some $. Nowadays some of this digital gear is priced through the roof.
Early on in my social documentary career I realized physical attacks were an ever present danger. As such, I had to put a little effort in learning how to maintain my safety. I’m more concerned with not getting injured or killed than losing gear. Still, I can’t afford to replace my gear, so I’d also like to hold onto it as well as my life.
Getting into altercations is an ever present danger for me. If you look at my photos in this blog you will see I am a very aggressive shooter even though I’m in my 60’s. Consequently with cam in hand and aggressive work habits, trouble seems to always follow me.
I got a bad neck and bad back, so I am not one for wresting a guy on the street. I am also at a disadvantage in that many times I have a camera strapped to my wrist and a backpack of photo gear on my back. To equalize things, I carry self-defense weapons for defending against an attack or to ward off a theft. Irrespective of my age and health issues, if need be, I can snap a neck or bust a head open like a cracked egg with a collapsible baton. That is the beauty of weapons…they are the great equalizer, they add power to the powerless.
From guns to batons to magnum 4 oz. cans of pepper spray…I’m armed for answering a wide range of threats with self-defense actions. I generally carry weapons more for my protection than losing a camera. I wont use high priced gear in known bad areas.
If I am shooting in dangerous areas, I use 12mp to 16 mp ‘disposable’ cameras and get my pack value down to $250 to $600 – I leave the high $$ gear at home. My cheap Pentax bodies start at $90 to $120 and 50mm manual lenses at $25. Couple that with a crapper $29 flash and that is about as disposable as I get.
Luckily for me I am not a anal fanboy of any one brand of cam. I can generally get along with most of the cams out there. That is where my nearly 50 years of experience has paid off.
I use a Think Tank Street Walker most of the time. For more stealth I use a cheapo $15 Walmart backpack with camera skins for protecting the gear. If you can find a cheap backpack with a waist belt for extra security that is great. No, it is nowhere as convenient as the shoulder bag. But the backpack does allow me to keep my gear and life safe, so that is all that counts.
Here is the bottom line…for street work, staying low key and having something secure that wont work against you in a fight…the backpack wins hands down. How would you like an attacker to take your shoulder bag and choke you out with the strap? A thief can pull a shoulder bag off your shoulder in an instant and take off. Getting a backpack off your back is much harder. If they get the pack off your back, maybe then can beat you with it, but at least you wont be choked out with the pack.
For further reading…
The Birth of Araki
Concept and post processing of found photographs by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.